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UNICEF and Umbra Collaborate on “Il Progetto Pigotta”

Dolls have provided comfort and companionship to generations of children the world over. And now, with the help of Il Progetto Pigotta, or “Rag Doll Project,” they can even save lives.

Founded in Lombardy, Italy, in 1988 by Boston native and UNICEF volunteer Jo Garceau, Progetto Pigotta volunteers sew and then put up for “adoption” hand-made rag dolls, the profit from which provides a full range of vaccinations for mothers and children in developing countries.

UNICEF resizedThe Umbra Institute has collaborated with the local UNICEF chapter for several years, but this summer’s UNICEF Pigotta Workshop was little different: a group of students from ADA University in Baku, Azerbaijan had the chance to make their own pigotte, or Raggedy Ann dolls. The students spent five weeks at the Umbra Institute to learn Italian language and culture; participating in Progetto Pigotta let the students work closely with the Italian UNICEF volunteers, many of whom are retired school teachers.

Each doll is sold for 20 euros, which provides a vaccine pack to both a mother and child in a developing country. The array of dolls students produced was astounding, from a bride to the Terminator to a princess and one wearing traditional Azerbaijani dress.

But the students dedicated even more than their time: each purchased his or her own doll, which they will then donate to an orphanage in Azerbaijan. All in all, the efforts of the students and UNICEF coordinators raised 300 euro towards medical care for those unable to afford it.

Umbra would like to extend a huge grazie to our Azerbaijani contingent, as well as the lovely volunteers at our local UNICEF chapter.

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